Alternative Approaches to the Cold and Flu

It is that time of year that everyone starts to worry about catching a viral infection. So what is the difference between a cold a the flu? First they are both viral infections so antibiotics have no value in the treatment of either condition.

woman cold and flu

Let’s look at some of the differences:


• Caused by coronavirus or adenovirus

• First symptom is usually sore throat

• Followed by runny nose and congestion

• Cough my follow after 4-5 days

• Fever uncommon in adults and slightly more common in children

• Usually lasts for 1 week

• Contagious during the first 3 days

• If symptoms persist, this may indicate secondary bacterial infection


• Caused by the influenza virus

• Up to 36,000 people die every year from complications

• More pronounced lung symptoms and possible pneumonia (note: shortness of breath should warrant doctors visit)

• May have mild to severe body and joint pain

• Sudden onset of symptoms

• Vomiting and diarrhea

• Sore throat

• Fever

• Headaches

• Congestion and cough

• Improves in 2-5 days usually, however fatigue may last for weeks

The flu can be deadly and its sudden onset can be very quickly devastating. There are antiviral drugs that are helpful for flu and many people feel the need to get their yearly flu shots. However, shots don’t’ always contain all the variations of the flu and it is still possible to get flu even after having a flu shot. Just know that with the flu, you do need to be careful especially in older adults and young children. Make sure they are kept hydrated and monitored.

Cold and Flu – Prevention Tips

One of the most common ways of preventing both the cold and flu that everyone knows is to wash your hands frequently. I also like to use hand sanitizer as often because points of contamination aren’t close to sinks.

Common Points of Contamination

These are areas that multiple people touch. This is when I like to use a hand sanitizer or wash my hands. Think of doors, retail store displays, ATMs, or anything that people before you are likely to touch. Also make sure you don’t touch your eyes or mouth unless you have clean hands. These mucous membranes are much easier for viruses to pass into your system.

I also like to use a nebulizer of essential oils in our office to help keep germs in check. Right now in my office, I have a nebulizer with tea tree oil to help keep viruses at bay. You can also try cinnamon or oregano oil.

Supplements that I feel are helpful include probiotics. The gut is an important part of the immune system so having a healthy flora in your intestines helps to keep your immune system health and ready to do its job.

A good balanced multiple vitamin is very helpful to keep your body healthy during cold and flu season. Make sure that it has adequate amount of selenium as this is found to help prevent infections.

I also like to use 1 gram of vitamin C daily during cold and flu season. I admit I’m partial to Emergen-C as it is so handy to take and drink. We know that colds and flu have a greater presence in the winter and we also know our bodies will not make as much vitamin D in the winter time. I often times up my vitamin D daily intake to 5000 IU daily during the winter time. I do watch my levels so I know that I can get by with this amount. However, most people should be fine taking 2000 iu daily in the winter.

I Have a Cold What do I Do? – Your Guide to Fighting Cold

Upping vitamin c during a cold may be helpful. I like to up my dosage to 5-10 grams of vitamin C a day taken throughout the day.

Zinc lozenges may be helpful. It was found that high temperature processing of the zinc lowered their activity. Only certain types of zinc are found to be helpful in lozenge form. Those include zinc acetate and gluconate.

I like to increase vitamin A as it helps to protect mucous membranes. Usually, I use 25000 IUs of vitamin A daily at the first sign of a cold.

Garlic has antiviral properties. However, the aged garlic isn’t as effective as the non-aged extract. I personally like to chew on a few garlic cloves a day.

My favorite herb for the cold and flu is lomatium dissectum. I have friends that I have turned onto this herb that swear by it for colds and flu. However it does have one bad side effect. In about 5-10% of people who take it they get a bad skin rash and must discontinue its use. Nonetheless, it is worth having around during cold and flu season.

To help keep away any secondary infection during a cold I find it essential to keep the sinuses open. Sometimes inhalers with wintergreen and mint can be very helpful. Olbas makes one and also has baths and such that are great to keep you healthy. Think a more natural Vicks. I also like to use a Nasaline to keep sinus passages open. I find them much easier to use than a neti pot and if I’m not feeling well, I will also add some colloidal silver to the rinse to help keep away an infection.

I Have the Flu Now What Do I Do? – Fighting the Flu

I think increasing vitamin C is helpful and some doctors recommend mega doses up to bowel tolerance. However I prefer using 5-10 grams a day. I also like to use high doses of vitamin D and vitamin A. I usually take 10000-50000 a day of vitamin D and 25000 a day of vitamin A. Remember this is only for a short time and not likely longer than one week. If you are unsure of vitamin D levels, I wouldn’t go above 10000 a day.

Remember that pneumonia is often a complication of the flu and must be treated by antibiotics. However, to try and prevent infections, I try to keep sinuses clean like the cold treatment. I also like to add N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) 1000-1200 a day to help keep my mucous membranes healthy.

Again I would use the lomatium as before. I often will use the regular dosage up to 6 times a day during the flu. Again be aware of the side effect of a rash. It is best to have it on hand and test it out before getting sick and taking large doses.

Sambucol is one of those items that I keep everywhere during cold and flu season. At the first sign of symptoms I will start drinking it in larger dosages. Most of the research on Sambucol is for the influenza, however, it doesn’t hurt to try it during a cold also.

Couple of Things I Have Found Helpful for Cold and Flu

We always try to have an electrolyte drink hanging around our home for a sudden onset of diarrhea and vomiting. Any type of electrolyte replacement is helpful in making sure that you don’t get dehydrated. This is so important to anyone but it is essential to children and older adults. There are electrolyte popsicles that are great when it is difficult keeping down fluids. I’ve found that people recover much quicker when they replenish electrolytes.

My father was treating patients before the era of antibiotics and back then people often died of pneumonia. He used to spend the nights with them taking care of them and he proudly told me that he never had one patient die. One of the things he swore by was using a hot foot bath for congestion. He had the patient soak their feet in hot water with mustard powder. I know I used to do this when I was a child and he kept that water very warm.

In today’s day and age we do have antibiotics and warm foot soaks are not a replacement. However they can be helpful to keep the congestion to a minimum before the onset of serious conditions.

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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.

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